Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Built five years ago on 137 acres in the western Spartanburg County town of Reidville, Tyger River Park has quickly become one of the crown jewels of the state’s sports tourism industry.
The park boasts 13 baseball/softball fields, a clubhouse, a playground, picnic shelters, a 1.25-mile walking trail with outdoor fitness equipment, an 18-hole disc golf course and a splash pad. This park is used for local youth league play (primarily during the week), weekend tournaments, and special events.
It’s been a home run for the county’s sports tourism efforts.
“There are not a lot of communities that can compete with 13 fields at one location,” said Kevin Stiens, director of Spartanburg County Parks & Recreation since January 2016. “Tyger River allows us to sit at the table to host some great events.”
Spartanburg County hosted more than 2,000 teams to baseball and fast-pitch softball tournaments from July 2016 to June 2017. Those tournaments brought in more than 25,000 participants and nearly 50,000 spectators.
Over the past four years, these tournaments have created an average annual economic impact of $8.8 million, Stiens said.
In May, the park played host to the 2017 USA Girls Softball Diamond Showcase Classic. There were 126 teams competing from 10 Southeastern states from Florida to Louisiana to West Virginia. In 2018, the site will host the USA Girls Softball 12-and-under national event.
While Tyger River Park is making a national name for itself in fast-pitch softball, there’s plenty of baseball, too. Two organizers that use the park on many weekends are Top Gun and the United States Specialty Sports Association. The latter held a Global World Series event at the park in July, and Tyger River will be home in September to its fall Super NIT event, one of 11 tournaments the organization planned for the park in 2017.
“Tyger River park has been a tremendous boost to the growth of USSSA baseball in the Upstate over the last five years,” said Jason Gross, state director for USSSA Baseball. “It is still one of two or three state-of-the-art youth baseball complexes in the entire Southeast.”
Gross said the success of Tyger River park for his organization is based on three things: the number of fields positioned all at one location; the central location with easy access from Columbia, Charlotte, western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee and Georgia; and the quality of fields and beauty of the park.
But the top draw, Gross said, might be the Tyger River staff.
“We have shared the same goals for the park since it opened and they understand what it takes to bring in big events to fill the park,” he said. “The maintenance staff has always taken great care of the fields. They also understand what it takes to keep the teams coming back.
“Customers are treated with respect and they always go out of their way to make sure we have everything we need to be successful.”
Stiens said the huge number of fields is what often gets tournaments to the park the first time, but it’s the staff, concessions, customer service and amenities that keeps them coming back year after year. It’s the amenities that make it a great place for families to watch their children compete and keep siblings entertained.
In fact, Gross said USSSA has added another director to the area solely focused on Spartanburg and bringing in more high-quality events.
“We are always looking to bring big events to our state and Tyger River is still the best destination that we can offer,” he said.